Can we introduce you to Dave Roberts? He attended our Loch Morlich swim in 2022 and kindly shared his thoughts in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZeOpf4wSCA
He contacted us by email to ask for assistance in attending the swim at Loch Morlich as he is a below the knee amputee. We’re happy to say that he enjoyed the swim and appreciated the efforts we made to ensure that he could participate safely.
We wanted to find out more about Dave and his background as we were full of admiration for his efforts to carry on with something that he loves after his amputation. Not all that surprisingly, it turns out that he has been a keen sportsperson all his life. From swimming at school to taking part in OC1 paddling (whitewater canoeing) at international level, Dave has always been active.
During the World Championships in 1993 which took place in Germany, Dave got trapped by a rock underwater on the extreme slalom part of the heats and suffered 3 broken ribs, a broken wrist and a crushed thigh muscle. Although he found it difficult to return to high level canoeing after that, he carried on with many outdoor sports, including gravel biking and mountain biking.
His amputation surgery came out of the blue in October 2021. He was suffering from some numbness in his left leg. He went into surgery to explore what was happening, and the surgeons discovered between 11 to 13 clots in his leg. They cleared these out and thought that would solve the issue. Sadly, over the next 24 hours, in Dave’s words, his leg went “backwards”, and he was subsequently told that if his leg wasn’t amputated, there was a risk to his life. Difficult to hear when you are an active outdoors person and only 56 at the time. It transpired that the earlier canoeing accident that had also crushed the artery in his thigh which decayed over time and fed debris into his femoral artery.
Dave was back on his bike by Christmas 2021 and returned to swimming. Swimming worked well for him as he hadn’t lost any of his upper limb power so was able to feel like his old self in the water.
As time went on, he began to do longer distances and use the open water swimming as a way to see different places. He entered the Kessock Ferry Swim and secured a top 20 finish! So, he looked at entering more events so came across our Loch Morlich swim.
We were able to accommodate Dave by helping him have his wheelchair at the water’s edge and assistance into the water. One of his suggestions for the future include mats to go right down to the water to help with access. In-water starts help enormously as it levels the playing field. Things like parking closer to the event also help although this is very much dependant on the location. Our volunteers also play a part in helping keep our swimmers safe keeping an eye out for anyone with a disability.
Dave has entered all three events this year, 1,500 metres at Loch Lomond and the 3k at both Loch Tay and Loch Morlich, although he does have to be careful about the cold affecting his left leg. His training has been going well with the recent good weather and he has been doing some wild swim-trek adventures!
He said that he was very impressed by how the Loch Morlich event was managed – it had a relaxed feel but still everything happened when it should. Swimming in the Cairngorms is truly special; being in the water and seeing the mountains, the forests and the beauty of it all is great for body and mind. He’d encourage anyone to come to Scotland for the swimming and experience the majesty of it all for themselves and the Go Swim events are a great place to start that adventure.